Medical Justice welcomes this inquiry into the areas in which the UK’s immigration detention system fails to comply with human rights and fails to protect against arbitrary detention.

Medical Justice has been working with detainees in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) across the UK since 2005 and has seen thousands of cases. We are the only organisation to send independent doctors into IRCs to document evidence of torture, challenge instances of inadequate healthcare and evidence the further harm that detention has caused.

Detention is harmful to those detained

There is consistent research evidence that detention harms detainees’ health. Those with pre-existing vulnerabilities, e.g. mental health issues or survivors of torture and other forms of cruel or inhuman treatment, including sexual violence and gender-based violence, are at particular risk of harm.

Lack of access to NHS equivalent healthcare

Healthcare in detention falls short of NHS equivalence. A summary of the shortcomings, including short consultations, late screenings, inadequate use of interpreters, poor clinical assessments, and lack of adherence to clinical protocols can be found here. We share the British Medical Association’s concern about inadequate healthcare and echo their call for a phasing out of immigration detention. We are particularly concerned about the treatment of vulnerable detainees with mental health issues who are denied access to the range and quality of treatments available in the community. We share the concern of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that IRCs are not therapeutic environments and therefore adequate treatment cannot be provided.

The current legal and policy framework for immigration detention does not prevent people from being detained wrongfully

This is evidenced by £21m paid in compensation for wrongful detention to 850 individuals between 2012 -2017. This does not include those who did not pursue legal action, which is likely to include many who were removed or too damaged by their experience to be aware of, or in a position to take up, legal challenges. The numbers must also be understood in relation to the target
driven culture in the Home Office, so evident in the Windrush scandal, which recently forced the Home Secretary to admit that the Home Office has ‘become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual’.


The full submission can be found here.